Project Description

UGLY KID JOE

Manning Bar, Sydney University

3 December 2017

(Live Review)

Reviewer – Benjamin Smith

.

.

.

Middle aged metalheads and teenage disciples gathering en masse at Manning Bar can only mean a treasured act returning triumphantly. Triumphant that return was. Glorious even.

Ugly Kid Joe were a band displaced by the shifting of ages. As the tide turned from the leather and glam of sunset strip rock n roll to the khaki despair of Seattle grunge, it seems they got lost someplace in between. Had they come along five years earlier they would have been thought of as groundbreaking, five years later and they would have been refreshingly positive. Alas it was not to be. After the success of their debut full length ‘America’s Least Wanted’, which followed the EP ‘Ugly as They Wanna Be’, the industry wasn’t quite sure how to sell their particular brand of sun-bleached fun and they faded from the spotlight.

.

UGLY KID JOE

UGLY KID JOE . Photo – Karen Lowe

.

UGLY KID JOE

UGLY KID JOE . Photo – Karen Lowe

.

UGLY KID JOE

UGLY KID JOE . Photo – Karen Lowe

.

Fast-forward 25 years and they return to grace the stages of USyd’s premiere venue, Manning Bar with local acts Dallas Frasca and Tim McMillan and Rachel Snow in tow.

Tim McMillan and Rachel Snow duel it out on acoustic guitar and violin respectively, doing reimagined versions of Metallica and Slayer songs in between fiendishly profane comic intervals.

.

UGLY KID JOE

UGLY KID JOE . Photo – Mandy Campbell

.

UGLY KID JOE

UGLY KID JOE . Photo – Mandy Campbell

.

UGLY KID JOE

UGLY KID JOE . Photo – Mandy Campbell

.

Fronted by vocalist of the same name, Dallas Frasca are a perfect example of the healthy state of Australian rock n roll. Their set is super high energy with diminutive guitarist Jeff Curran tearing shit up while the powerhouse singer got down into the crowd and wailed her fucking lungs out.

Ugly Kid Joe hit the stage to riotous reactions from the crowd, eager to hear the band perform the hits from their classic album on its 25th birthday. They do not disappoint. Starting with ‘Neighbour’, singer Whitfield Crane nails every track as if it was 1992. His lungs are in remarkably good shape and the band are in perfect form. The interactions with the crowd are genuinely warm and they make clear that many of the songs have not been performed in 25 years. At one point Crane makes tribute to a couple in the front row whose first date was at an UKJ gig decades ago and who he dedicated Cats in the Cradle to at the time. He dedicates the track to them again and the audience sing along to every word.

.

UGLY KID JOE

UGLY KID JOE . Photo – Mandy Campbell

.

UGLY KID JOE

UGLY KID JOE . Photo – Mandy Campbell

.

UGLY KID JOE

UGLY KID JOE . Photo – Mandy Campbell

.

There is also a point during which Crane hands his mike over to an audience member and gives him a chance to take lead vocals on ‘Everything About You’. The show is a much needed reminder that, at its core rock n roll is supposed to be fun. The energy from the band is so joyous, they are clearly loving being back in front of adoring audiences and the crowd respond accordingly. There is a rare air of collegiality in the room, so much so that security guards urging punters to move on after the show have a hard time getting anybody to leave.

Hopefully this tour won’t be a one off and Ugly Kid Joe will start coming back more often now that they see how well-loved their music is here. A band so tight should be heard; they should be heard loud, they should be heard often and they should be heard here.

.

UGLY KID JOE

UGLY KID JOE . Photo – Mandy Campbell

.

UGLY KID JOE

UGLY KID JOE . Photo – Mandy Campbell

.

Check out Karen Lowe’s gallery of the Perth show HERE

.

Check out Many Campbell’s gallery of the Melbourne show HERE

.

Check out an Interview with Whitfield Crane HERE

.

Follow UGLY KID JOE

Website

.

.

AMNPLIFY – DB